When it comes to retailers getting the most out of their local community’s consumer home shows, Howie Stein, president of Eddy’s Flooring America in Worcester, Mass., is behind some of the most unique home show exhibits end users on the East Coast—or anywhere for that matter—have ever seen.

“I have been in the family business for over 50 years,” he notes. “I started at age six. This is how I spent quality time and at the same time was schooled by my father on the old way of doing business.”

That “old way” of doing business, according to Stein, included more conventional marketing and advertising methods. Stein, who also has a background in communications, has added a more up-to-date twist to the methods he learned from his father and mentor to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of today’s consumer.

“Today’s consumers shop and buy products differently and they expect to have an engaging shopping experience,” Stein explains.

When it comes to flooring, Stein admits that it is not the most exciting product for consumers to shop for. In fact, he compared it to shopping for a car—generally more of a necessity than something people are eager and exited to purchase.

It is for that very reason that Stein—who considers himself far from traditional—likes to step outside the box when creating exhibits for home shows, as he wants to make the experience unique—and even fun—for customers.

“What’s so great about floor covering? I’m trying to look outside the box and have fun in a more mundane situation.” he says.

Stein finds inspiration for his home show booths in everything and everywhere. Be it the lights on the performance stage of one of his favorite shows, “the Voice”; favorite childhood board games such as the Game of Life; a Disney World theme park; the TV popular show “Dancing with the Stars,” or the local mall. You name it; he’s done it or eventually will do it.

While accompanying his wife as she shopped at a major department store—she was looking at clothing to purchase—Stein was observing the company’s display racks and how they were set up. From there, the concept for Fashion World was born.

Stein’s “Fashion World” exhibit at last year’s Worcester Home Show was designed to make consumers feel like they had entered a well-known department store. The unique touch Stein added to the layout of this area? Flooring products were displayed like clothes on racks.

Also at that Worcester show was Eddy’s Rain Forest, where customer’s experienced products designed to perform in highly moist areas—something his customers can relate to living in the Northeast.

Beyond the home show display, the retailer built anticipation for the one-of-a-kind exhibit with a number of marketing initiatives, including the following radio promotion: “Enter Eddy’s Rain Forest and be amazed! Imagine the natural beauty of waterfalls and landscapes in this moist climate, and see just how resistant floors [such as] luxury vinyl tile and Resista Carpet is to areas like your basement…”

When NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” was “hotter than a pistol,” Stein and his team fashioned a home show exhibit to mimic the popular game show’s set. Stein didn’t leave out a single detail, and included in the layout were suitcases loaded with prizes and coupons for customers.

Stein enjoys educating consumers as they meander through his exhibit areas and helping to make sure their visit is memorable. “Everyone says you’re there to sell, but that’s not my No. 1 mantra. My goal is to make sure people have fun while they’re there, and to make sure that they remember Eddy’s Flooring America as the place to go when they are in need of flooring.”

 While the eye-catching exhibits are fun to create and execute, Stein believes the relationships he builds with both show officials and attendees is what’s most important at home shows. “Most home shows are about developing relationships on all ends,” he said.

Along with the unique visuals in his booth, Stein makes sure customers remember their visit to his space by giving visitors a useful takeaway. His favorite is a yardstick, because according to him, everyone has use for one in their home and will hold on to it for years. The yardsticks are also coupons, meaning if a consumer comes to the store with one she receives a certain percentage off her purchase.

It’s also a way for Stein to gauge how effective the home show was for the company. And they are “extremely” effective, which is why each year he continues to try and outdo his previous years’ efforts.

So what does the future hold for Stein and Eddy’s Flooring America? Just when one might think he has done it all, the marketing guru still has lots of ideas for future home shows, and major plans to take things to the next level. “I want to go far more visual than ever before.” Stein sees bigger, more interactive displays on the horizon. “I just want to out-do myself.”

While participating in home shows in creative, never before seen ways, Stein said whether it is talking to consumers at these events or in his store, customer service and appreciation is always the No. 1 priority. “It doesn’t take much to make [customers] know that we are very interested in servicing them and making them a part of our family.”